Cleveland's Ethnic Diversity Mapped
One World Festival - Cleveland Cultural Gardens
September 13-14, 2014

At ClevelandPeople.Com we have known for years what a diverse and vibrant city Cleveland is. After all, we have covered the events, people, music, food and other cultural traits of over 100 groups that have large communities in the area.

But we wanted a visual representation to demonstrate this to others. So at the 2014 Cleveland Asian Festival (CAF) we set up a large map of Asia and asked people to place a dot where they or their ancestors came from. At first people were reluctant to do so and we had some language issues. But gradually people migrated to the map and discussed (in various languages) with us and their family and friends.

There were quite a few parents showing their adopted children "This is where you came from!"

By the end of the CAF portions of the map were saturated with dots - especially China, India, Vietnam, Korea, Japan and the Philippines. We encouraged people to place their dot as close to the city/village as they knew. Many were excited to have their small town, far from a capital or well-known city, represented.

The interest generated from the map at CAF convinced us to continue the efforts. For the One World Festival in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, the ClevelandPeople.Com booth had our map of Asia but also a large map of Europe and a map of the world that clearly identified countries in Africa and the Americas.

Map of Europe after Day 1

Map of Europe after Day 1

Again, people were initially reluctant to place their dot but soon our tables were packed with people identifying their roots and swapping stories. There were some fascinating moments such as:

  • A person approached from the left and another from the right at the same time. Both were placing dots in the country of Belarus. Neither had known each other before. They, of course, began talking.
  • Several people shyly stated that "You won't have my country" but then saw that yes there was a space for, and perhaps already a dot in, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Kuwait, Guyana and others. Their eyes lit up and more great discussions ensued.
  • We expected the map of Ireland to have dots all over County Mayo because of the large Cleveland population from there and we were not disappointed. But we were surprised that the entire Emerald Isle was covered with people from numerous counties, North and South.
  • Many people were very interested in seeing just where Ukraine and Russia were and the closeness of the Baltic States. It gave them a better view of the situation there they told us. Very few realized there is an isolated chunk of Russia to the west of Lithuania and north of Poland.
  • Similarly, many were amazed at how small and close many of the Middle East countries that are in the news are. Again, many walked away with a new perspective as to the situation there.
  • Most African-Americans did not know their original country of origin. Most could tell us where they came from in the US (Alabama, Mississippi, etc.) but few knew beyond that. But there was a lot of interest in finding out. There were discussions about DNA testing, genealogy and more.
  • We expected lots of Germans, Slovenians, Polish, Italian, Hungarian, etc. and were not disappointed. We were very surprised to have 2 people (not together) from the tiny Isle of Man and one from the Orkney Islands.
  • Many were proud to be from Sicily or Bavaria or another specific region of a country.

There were so many synergies and connections. For example, one of our booth volunteers, Mari Galindo-Dasilva works at MetroHealth and had a long conversation in Spanish with a man on his bike who, like her, is from Mexico. It turns out he is a doctor and they will be following up on their conversation.

Our booth was on East Blvd in front of the German Garden and there was no mention of the maps from the stage or in the event program. So we relied on foot traffic and aggressive, friendly workers (Debbie, Andrea, Joe, Linda, Mari, Eileen, etc.) to engage people. And engage them they did. Many came back later to continue their stories and often brought friends with them.

Closer map of Europe after Day 1

Zoomed view of Europe Map after first day

Looking at the maps after the 2 days we identified the following countries that were represented:

  1. Albania
  2. Argentina
  3. Armenia
  4. Austria
  5. Azerbaijan
  6. Belarus
  7. Belgium
  8. Bosnia
  9. Brazil
  10. Bulgaria
  11. Canada
  12. China
  13. Croatia
  14. Cuba
  15. Czech Republic
  16. Denmark
  17. Egypt
  18. England
  19. Estonia
  20. Ethiopia
  21. Finland
  22. France
  23. Germany
  24. Greece
  25. Guatemala
  26. Guyana
  27. Hungary
  28. India
  29. Indonesia
  30. Iran
  31. Iraq
  32. Ireland
  33. Isle of Man
  34. Israel
  35. Italy
  36. Ivory Coast
  37. Jamaica
  38. Japan
  39. Kazakhstan
  40. Korea
  41. Kuwait
  42. Latvia
  43. Lebanon
  44. Liberia
  45. Libya
  46. Lithuania
  47. Luxembourg
  48. Macedonia
  49. Mexico
  50. Moldova
  51. Native American (various tribes)
  52. Netherlands
  53. Nigeria
  54. Norway
  55. Orkney Islands
  56. Pakistan
  57. Peru
  58. Philippines
  59. Poland
  60. Puerto Rico
  61. Romania
  62. Rusin (nationality, not country)
  63. Russia
  64. Saudi Arabia
  65. Scotland
  66. Serbia
  67. Sierra Leone
  68. Slovakia
  69. Slovenia
  70. South Africa
  71. Spain
  72. Sweden
  73. Switzerland
  74. Syria
  75. Thailand
  76. Trinidad and Tobago
  77. Turkey
  78. Uganda
  79. Ukraine
  80. Vietnam
  81. Wales
From previous efforts we have seen people from Portugal, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia, Laos and Palestine but they did not come by our table this weekend.

Obviously this is an unscientific sampling. But it clearly demonstrates the cultural diversity that we have in our city. This is a blessing and advantage.

ClevelandPeople.Com will continue to work to show how diverse and welcoming Cleveland is. If you want to learn more or become involved please contact us at info@ClevelandPeople.Com.

In addition, you can subscribe to the free weekly news of upcoming ethnic events or pick one or more specific nationalities to receive news about at our e-newsletter page.

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